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“City of Brotherly Love”

June 30, 2011
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I had the privilege of attending the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia this summer. It was an amazing learning experience. I’ll post something about it later on my school blog. But this post is not about that. Here’s a little story….

Arriving early in Philly, we were able to do a little sightseeing and take a bus tour of the city. I saw the Love sculpture at the JFK Plaza, a.k.a. the LOVE Park. It was a few blocks away from our hotel and on the way to the convention center. I attended an informal bloggers’ session on the weekend and thought it would be a good opportunity to check out the park. (A tourist took this photo of me.)

What I discovered there was somewhat disturbing. It was a park where the homeless lived. At first, I walked around the fountains and avoided the homeless people. I ignored them like how the tourists and businessmen there ignored them. I guess you call that “selective seeing.” Then I came across this blind, elderly lady who was also mentally disabled. It broke my heart. What’s going to happen to her? Who’s looking out for her? She was the neediest of the needy.

I had brunch at the Reading Terminal Market, a Philly cheese steak sandwich. It was good, and it was huge. I saved half and went to my session. When it was over, I thought about that lady. God really put her on my heart. I decided to return to the park on my way back to the hotel. I looked for her, but I couldn’t find her.

Everyone at the park was snapping pictures and ignoring all of the homeless people scattered among the park benches. But I decided to walk alongside the groups of homeless people. What a turnaround. I couldn’t find the lady, so I looked for the oldest man there. It startled him when I offered the sandwich. Guess they’re used to being ignored. He happily accepted.

The next day, I took a stroll through the neighborhood. I had what I now call, “the best lunch of my life.” I visited this highly recommended kosher deli and sampled their homemade corned beef and pastrami meats. Oh my gosh! I went with the pastrami on rye, latkes (potato cakes,) slaw, and pickles. So ono that it made my head spin! Again, the portions were just too huge. I went back to the park and looked for the lady one more time. On this Sunday, a local church outreach was there to pass out lunch bags. The line stretched along the sidewalk of an entire city block. There were still a bunch of people on the benches. I couldn’t find the lady, so I looked for somone who looked the saddest. I startled him. He took the bag and said, “God bless you.” His face just lit up.

As delicious as the food was, it was my “best lunch” because I got to share it. This was after all, the LOVE Park….

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